Recently we were lucky enough to sit down and have a drink with one of our favorite designers, Mr. Robert Rodriquez. Just give us some tailored silhouettes with lots of leather, and we’re always on board! We met Robert at the Zodiac restaurant inside Neiman Marcus shortly before he hosted an amazing party celebrating his line’s 10th anniversary, among other things. While he loves to dress some of our favorite divas, Robert himself was anything but! He couldn’t have been more laid back, and was just such a sweet, genuinely nice guy. A representative from Neiman Marcus told us that while they’re used to catering to endless requests from designers and celebrities at appearances, Robert could not have been more gracious and easygoing. Oh, and did we mention what a handsome devil he is? That smile was not difficult to look at! So without further ado… we give you, Robert Rodriguez…
So what brings you to Chicago tonight?
We’re here to promote fall, we’re also here to promote the launch of the CUSP department, and we’re also celebrating my 10th anniversary. It’s been 10 years of fabulous fashion! So we’re celebrating all that and it’s going to be a great night!
Have you had a long-standing relationship with Neiman Marcus?
For the past 10 years I’ve had a collection here. We have a great partnership, and they’ve been very supportive of my work.
What have some of the highlights of the past 10 years been for you and your line?
I’m one to look at the future. I don’t think much about what I’ve already done, I just want to think about what’s next. I always want to do it better!
What was the inspiration behind your Fall 2013 collection?
The fall collection is all about glam/punk. Deborah Harry was my muse, so I did a lot of research on her and pulled out things that she used to wear and things that I would design if I were to dress her. I didn’t want it to be too literal, and obvious. I wanted to capture the moment, but in a current way of how a girl would wear it today. It’s very updated, it doesn’t really look like the 70’s or 80’s.
Do you have a personal relationship with Deborah Harry?
I don’t! I’ve been to a lot of her concerts in New York. So I’ve been around that era and seen a lot of it.
Does she know she’s one of your muses?
She doesn’t know. We have to start tweeting her! But, she’s amazing. A fashion icon.
Who are your other personal fashion icons?
There’s so many!
It’s like asking someone to name a favorite child!
Oh, I have a favorite child! My dog Stella! She’s 3 pounds. A little Yorkie.
What’s new and exciting in the world of Robert Rodriguez at the moment?
I just finished spring 2014 and what we did for our 10th anniversary is we relaunched a new label, a new logo, and a new collection. We’ve built a new showroom in New York that looks like a spaceship. It’s very futuristic, very clean. So we’re taking our next 10 years in a different direction, and we’re very excited about it. It’s very cool!
Okay, here’s a little fashion mystery we’re trying to solve… whenever we talk to female designers they always say they’re successful because they’re women designing for women, and they know what women want… but obviously the men seem to know what women want as well! What advantages do you think male designers have when designing for women?
I think that designing first needs to be a passion, and then it’s about storytelling. It’s about visualizing a woman, and then in your dream visualizing what you want her to look like. It’s a fantasy. It’s emotional. Women love to be emotional about buying something. That’s how I design. I visualize the woman wearing my clothes and to me that’s storytelling. I come from a family of a mom, and two sisters. I grew up with women, so I grew up watching them, seeing what they would wear, what they would gravitate to and what looked good on their body types. I’ve taken that and applied it into my creativity when I’m designing. I think a male designer is always looking at a certain muse, where a female designer is thinking of what she would wear herself.
So who is “your girl” for Spring 2014?
For Spring my influence was African tribes meet futuristic warriors, so my girl for spring is definitely a warrior. She’s very strong, she’s very confident, there’s nothing she can’t do. She’s a warrior!
Speaking of the futuristic… What’s your take on social media? How do you see it fitting into the realm of fashion?
I think it’s great! I think it’s great for designers because there’s so much visibility. I’m all for it! There are so many young talented designers out there, and it’s a great time for that because people get to see what they do. Before, it was never like that. So, I think social media is amazing. It’s the wave of the future.
What have been some of your most memorable moments seeing your designs being worn?
Eva Longoria wore a black gown of mine, and wow, she looked hot! I’ve seen a lot of my things on Angelina Jolie, she always likes everything leather, and tight, and sexy, so every time she wears something of mine it just pops. She’s a warrior! She’s cool. There are so many different actresses I’ve seen with my stuff on, wow. I’ve dressed Rihanna, and she’s amazing! So that was fun.
Who are you dying to dress that you haven’t?
I want to dress all of them!
In general, what should women be wearing this fall? Conversely, what needs to go in the next closet cleanout?
For Fall/Winter it’s very minimal, it’s very structured. I always clean my closet out every fall, because the shapes are different. This year it’s very close to the body, so keep all your tailored pieces in and anything oversized needs to get out.
Then, what’s on the horizon for Spring?
I did a lot of spring leathers. Very light spring leathers that you can still wear in January and February. Also, the return of the skirt, in everyway. I did either really short, or really long. I also did a lot of white shirts. Shirting is back, whether it’s in shirtdresses, or oversized shirts. Spring is all about looking really crisp!
How does your Cuban heritage manifest in your designs? Or does it?
I was born in Cuba. I think it’s evolved over time. I’ve lived in different places. I’ve spent almost my entire career in New York, but I’ve lived in Florida, San Francisco, now I live in LA. So I’ve taken in a little bit of all the different cultures and I think that’s reflected in my collections, because I’m inspired by so many different things. I love architecture, I love art, I love nature, I love to travel and be inspired by all these different things. So I think that’s reflected in every collection.
What’s your next dream vacation?
My next dream vacation… I’ve never been to Africa and I just did this whole thing for Spring that’s all African inspired so now I need to go experience it! Maybe I should have done that before, but I didn’t.
Without having been to Africa where specifically did you find the inspiration for your African inspired SS 2014 collection?
I was walking around in LA and I saw this millinery hat shop, and there was a straw hat in the window that I thought was interesting. But I didn’t want it to only look African inspired, I wanted it to also be futuristic, so I started searching aliens and things, then I put the two together. I did patterns, and marble prints, and raffia skirts, and all these things that were African inspired, but very clean and futuristic.
What can we expect to see next from the Robert Rodriguez brand as a whole?
We’re entertaining the thought of branching out into other categories. We’d like to do shoes, we’d like to do handbags. We’d like to open up stores, of course. Perhaps a menswear collection. I’m actually dying to do a menswear collection, so that’s in my future I think.
[Photos By Hallie Duesenberg]